Web Terms & Acronyms
What does it all mean?
The Web is guilty of creating many of the acronym's flying about in today's internet lexicon. What's worse, many of them are recursive, where the first letter of the acronym stands for the first letter of the acronym! (Example: GNU stands for GNU is Not Unix) Here are some of the more frequent web terms de-mystified:
- Internet Service Provider: We'll start with an easy one... this is simply the company that supplies your internet, like the phone company supplies the connection to the phone lines. Sometimes, this can also refer to the company that hosts your website on their servers.
- Domain Name Server: A little more complex, now... A DNS is what points your domain name to the server that the website lives on. Your domain name is something like www.mywebsite.com, and the DNS is just an address pointing to a server. So, when someone types in your domain name into their browser, the browser knows where in the world to look for the content.
- eXtensible Hyper-Text Markup Language: Based on its cousin XML, XHTML is the next generation of HTML. More strict in its rules and markup, XHTML is better suited for newer browsers and hopefully, future browsers.
- Cascading Style Sheets: A way to separate HTML markup from style, and control the styles for all the pages from one central location. Also lends the ability to specify different styles for print and hand-held devices.
- Real Simple Syndication: RSS is another derivative of XML, but this time, it is used as a standard for "feeds". RSS feeds can increase traffic to your site by making it easier for users to check the newest content. Modern browsers can take these feeds and "subscribe" to them. Through a "live" bookmark (simply a bookmark that updates itself) the feed will show them the latest topics, and users can visit the source of if they are interested. RSS feeds can also be used by other websites to pull in dynamic content.
- Hypertext Preprocessor: An open source (free) server-side programming language used for dynamic database-driven web site content. A very powerful set of tools to simplify and automate page design.
- (my) Structured Query Language: SQL is a powerful database platform developed by Microsoft, and mySQL is the equally powerful, but free and open source, sibling. mySQL plays better with PHP, whereas SQL requires programmers to use ASP – another Microsoft language – and pay more for software liscense fees.
- FTP & SFTP
- (Secure) File Transfer Protocol: FTP is a way to transfer files directly to the harddrive of a web server, or web-accesible computer. FTP differs from HTTP is some of its security measures and the way it handles requests. FTP typically needs a Username and Password for access, while HTTP is open to the public.
- Code that is rendered by a user’s browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc…), or in other terms, rendered locally on a user’s computer. This allows for on-the-fly user interaction with the website, without the page having to be requested from the server and “refreshed”.
- Code that is rendered by the server that the site is hosted on before it gets to the visitor. This means that something like PHP will write the XHTML that the visitor eventually sees as the visitor needs it.